Nate Silver has built his reputation on data-driven journalism for the masses.
He famously predicted the results of the last few rounds of political elections, including while blogging for the New York Times.
Now his website and methodology has a new target: The beer mile, “a four-lap, four-beer testament to just how insane elite runners really are.”
It is, quite simply, the best article I’ve read on the topic. It marks the first time I’ve seen any sort of quantitative and qualitative analysis for the beer mile.
FiveThirtyEight.com writer Allison McCann traces the origins of the beer mile on college campuses in the ’90s, its rise to include elite runners, the techniques that produce a beer mile champion, and even some of the controversies surrounding the sub 5-minute beer mile.
Beyond the obvious strong legs and stomach, McCann asserts that consistency is key when downing the first and final beer. It’s the difference between a winner and a mid-packer.
“The fiercest competitors guzzle through the party zone as fast as Olympic triathletes put on their post-swim socks,” McCann writes, noting how world champion Corey Gallagher did “negative splits” for his beers — finishing faster than he started.
Perhaps most importantly, the article addresses how the beer mile helps shatter the myth that all runners “some strange breed of nutrition-obsessed freaks.” In fact, beer milers are beer runners. They work hard and reward themselves — and sometimes punish themselves — with well-deserved beer.
“People think we hang out in a cabin eating chia seeds,” said Luis Armenteros, who placed third in the men’s sub-elite division with a time of 6:03.2. “I can’t drink everyone under the table, but I can drink a lot.”
Read the full beer mile analysis on FiveThirtyEight.